Before I decided to adopt, I did not know much about adoption. I had a few acquaintances throughout my life who were part of the adoption triad, but I did not know any of them well enough to talk about adoption in detail. Most of what I knew about adoption came from the movies and television, so I had a lot to learn when I decided to adopt.
The only adoptions I had ever heard of were closed. I was floored when our adoption agency talked about meeting the expecting mother and sending her pictures and letters even after the adoption was finalized. I believed that the birthparents were never part of a child’s life after the adoption.
I believed that most adoptions were of newborns of the same race. I was aware that there were foster children who needed homes, but I believed that most adoptions took place shortly after birth. Whenever I saw a storyline about adoption on television, it involved a Caucasian family who adopted a Caucasian baby. I had heard about international adoptions, mostly from Romania or China, but I did not realize how many adoptive families grow through transracial adoption.
I did not appreciate the enormity of the sacrifice that birthmothers make by placing their children for adoption. I believed that adoption was a solution to a “problem” for birthmothers. The only birthmothers I saw represented on television either did not want the baby or were psychos who tried to take the child back when the child was older. While both of these premises made for dramatic movies-of-the-week, this is very different from what I have learned about birthmothers from blogs and message boards. Also, after I announced my plans to adopt, two women confided in me that they were birthmothers and explained to me the depth of their love for their birth children.
I was unaware that there were more respectful ways to talk about adoption. I did not view the phrase “gave up her baby” as anything that would be upsetting to another person. I never thought about a birthfather’s role in adoption.
Adoption is so complex, and society as a whole is woefully uneducated about adoption. I am grateful for the blogs we have here at AdoptionBlogs.com as well as message boards that provide such a great education for people who are just starting the adoption process. I wish these resources had been available when I was adopting.
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt